Chamber asks dismissal of IPO recruiting lawsuit

Filed under: Banking & Finance |

The National Chamber Litigation Center is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed against leading investment banks for allegedly engaging in anticompetitive conduct while recruiting customers for initial public offerings.

In December, the high court agreed to review the case, Credit Suisse Securities USA v. Glen Billing. The NCLC filed a brief last week with the request to abandon the suit.

The case would subject the IPO process to claims for triple damages.

The chamber says the lawsuit threatens U.S. capital markets by making them less attractive for companies to raise capital in the global marketplace.

The NCLC further argued that granting antitrust immunity for actions taken during IPOs enhances businesses’ ability to expand.

IRS opens Free File program for 2006 tax season

The Internal Revenue Service opened this year’s Free File program.

A series of improvements and changes have been introduced to the program this year, including services in Spanish. The free electronic filing program is in its fifth year.

Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers — 95 million Americans — qualify for Free File. This year, up to 20 Free File alliance companies will participate in the program run by the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a consortium of tax preparation software companies.

Changes to this year’s program include:

  • The ability to request the Telephone Excise Tax Refund.
  • Refund anticipation loans and other ancillary products will no longer be allowed.
  • Some alliance members are offering the state return for free. All alliance members’ Web sites display whether state online tax preparation and filing services are available and the associated fees, if any.
  • Taxpayers can use Free File to file a Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File.

Free file is available through IRS.gov.

Bernanke: Medicare overhaul crucial

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is warning that a fiscal crisis could result if Social Security and Medicare aren’t overhauled.

He said that longer life expectancies are leading to longer periods of retirement while the growth rate of the work force is declining.

The ratio of working Americans to retirees, which currently stands at 5:1, is expected to fall to 3:1 by 2030.

He estimated that the nation is about 10 years behind schedule for finding a solution.

Interest payments on the national debt are expected to reach 4.5 percent of the gross domestic product by 2030, which is nearly three times the current level relative to national output and a 100 percent debt to GDP ratio, according to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office.

The last time that the debt-to-GDP ratio was 100 percent was during World War II.

Bernanke said a cycle may develop in which large deficits lead to rapid growth in debt and interest payments, which in turn adds to subsequent deficits.

UMB surpasses $10 billion in mutual, trust fund assets

UMB Financial Corp. has surpassed $10 billion in mutual fund and trust assets under management.

Assets have increased 48 percent from $6.9 billion since June 30, 2004.

The leading contributor to the growth was the UMB Scout Fund family, which in a little more than two years increased its net assets 230 percent, or $5 billion.

Comprising about half the assets under management for UMB, the fund family now includes five equity funds, one fixed income fund and three money market funds.

N.Y. hedge fund giving back $1.35 billion

Cantillon Capital Management in New York is returning $1.35 billion to clients after admitting that it is unlikely to meet its targetted 15 percent annual return without taking too great a risk

Cantillon, which has $9.5 billion under management, will close its $1 billion technology fund and its $350 million health care fund on March 1.

Investors will be able to take their money or put 70 percent into another Cantillon fund.

Fees bump Wells Fargo profits up 13 percent

Wells Fargo’s profits rose 13 percent during the fourth-quarter of 2006.

The earnings matched analysts estimates.

Wells Fargo Chairman Dick Kovacevich had vowed to aggressively pitch loans, credit cards and other financial services to households and businesses that already had accounts with the bank. And more accounts add up to more fees for Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo’s credit and debit card fees totaled $481 million during the fourth quarter, a 22 percent increase from the previous year, while fees from investment and trust accounts climbed 18 percent to $735 million.

FirstBank reports 2006 earnings

Lakewood-based FirstBank Holding Co. has reported net income of $102.5 million for 2006. Earnings per share were $764.11.

FirstBank has two subsidiary banks with seven branches in Colorado Springs, FirstBank of Colorado Springs with $155 million in assets and FirstBank of El Paso County with $124.4 million in assets.

Rob Larimer is managing editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal.